Friday, October 9, 2015

Matt Kalil

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Last week, I wrote that the Norv Turner and the Minnesota Vikings need to let Teddy Bridgewater operate from the pocket, or, create moving pockets through roll-outs and play action. If the Vikings are going to be successful this season and beyond, they’ll need to ride those skinny knees of a healthy Teddy Bridgewater.

While play-calling helps minimize the effect of a defense’s schemes and blitzes, protecting the quarterback begins at the line of scrimmage with the offensive line and running backs — two of the most important positional groups heading into 2015.

Their importance has skyrocketed in recent days, most notably after the loss of Phil Loadholt during Saturday night’s preseason game against the Buccaneers. Loadholt suffered a torn achilles and will miss the entire season, which puts him at risk of being cut before 2016. As Adam wrote on Sunday, the Vikings have a few options to replace “Big Phil,” though the job at right tackle appears to be rookie T.J. Clemmings’s to lose.

So much relies on the Vikings’ group up front, and so much of that pressure falls on a select few players, from embattled left tackle Matt Kalil to newly-minted right guard Mike Harris. Can this reshuffled and retooled line live up to the test, or will Teddy Bridgewater end up battered and bruised like he was last season?

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Veteran writer Brian Hall (@MNBrianHall) recently joined the Vikings Terriory team, so now is the perfect time to get him on the podcast. Brian stops in to talk about his backstory and the #HireBrian movement as well as the recent happenings with the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings.

How will the Loadholt injury affect things on the offensive line, how Christian Ponder will be greeted upon his return to Minnesota Saturday, will Adrian buck the trend of 30-year running backs hitting the wall, why Vikings fans should pump the brakes on Trae Waynes, and “How’s Teddy Look?”.

All that and other “I’m as crazy as Everson” fun on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Image courtesy of Chris Price

Every once in a while, one’s cynicism can mix with reality to create a sense of optimism during a turbulent time.

Following the news of Phil Loadholt’s torn Achilles that will almost certainly sideline him for the entirety of the 2015 season, my initial feelings were those of sadness for Loadholt as an individual, and also increased worries about an offensive line that was already this offense’s biggest liability.

For Loadholt individually, the situation downright sucks and he has a long road to recovery for the second season in a row. Next season is his last under his current contract and he will be set to make a salary of $7.75 million and, if no adjustments are made, the Vikings would only eat $1.75 million of that if they parted ways with him.

The idea that Loadholt has possibly played his last game as a Vikings might provide some readers with a shock, but the numbers suggest it is possible. Combine that with the fact that he’ll be thirty next year, with injuries continuing to wear on that large frame of his, and it might be closer to “likely” than “possible.”

At the very least, the silver lining in this situation is that Loadholt’s injury provides clarity in that a replacement is needed immediately. If one wants to be a true optimist, you may even go so far as to say the team can now potentially trade in some run blocking dominance for an improved pass blocker.

Of course, all of that optimism is totally contingent on finding an adequate replacement for Loadholt, and that is easier said than done. The Vikings brass are surely going to have their thinking caps on over the next couple of days, but what options exactly do they have to consider?

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The Minnesota Vikings topped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-16 Saturday at The Sauna… I mean The Bank. Mike Zimmer extends his career head coaching preseason record to a robust 6-0, but it came at a price as veteran road-grading right tackle Phil Loadholt was lost for the season with a torn achilles. The much maligned offensive line now has a new set of obstacles. Who’s gonna step up? TJ Clemmings? Austin Shepherd? Babs? (Not Babs)

We dig into the NEW problematic offensive tackle position for the Vikings as well as touch on other “Not-so Famous Jameis” talking points on today’s recap show.

Other “Get well soon, Uncle Phil” Talkers Include
• The Dogra Bowl – Welcome back Leslie Frazier
• Phil Loadholt done for the year, career as a Viking?
• Will TJ Clemmings step up?
• Matt Kalil said football is fun again
• Teddy looked sharp & in command
• Was it Zach Line’s birthday?
• WTF, Cordarrelle?
• Stefon Diggs is a lot of fun to watch
• Blanton is going to start, but it’s close
• Marcus Sherels is under-appreciated. We don’t deserve him.
• We are very lucky to have Tom Johnson
• Long snapper: No one cares. Just pick one.
• Taylor Heinicke. Me likey.
• Good things happen when Gerald Hodges is on the field
• Don’t bet against Adam Thielen (You can bet against Fruechte though)
• Eric Kendricks is an animal
• Give me Brian Peters over Mike Mauti & Brandon Watts #SorryNotSorry
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All that and other “Next Man Up” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Carl: Defensive Line
I try not to get overly excited about preseason games, but the Vikings’ defensive front certainly impressed me the most in the Hall of Fame Game. Andre Patterson is entering his second season as the defensive line coach for the Vikings, and he just might have all the pieces in place to consistently control the line of scrimmage on any given Sunday. Last season, the Vikings front four featured three new starters in Everson Griffen, Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph. After one preseason game this year, I’m beginning to believe the sky might be the limit for this talented unit. Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, Justin Trattou and Danielle Hunter are also playing very solid football, which will tempt Mike Zimmer to actively rotate guys during the regular season. Like I said, it’s only a preseason game, but I liked seeing the quickness off the snap, active hands, and the physicality to collapse the pocket and close running lanes.

Brent: Jabari Price
I’m not sure I’d use the word “impressed,” but the player who flashed for me was Jabari Price. Going into training camp, I was unsure of Price’s fit with the team – especially with a two-game suspension looming. However, Price’s play against Pittsburgh caught my eye mostly because he seemed to play faster and with more physicality than I remember last year. Now that Price is on the radar, I am interested to see how far he can push Captain Munnerlyn. We know Zimmer likes Price’s versatility, but can he be trusted enough to play full time in the slot? Munnerlyn seems to be in an odd spot with this team, and thoughts about him being an early-season cut linger.

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